Disadvantages Of Manual Treadmills

Manual treadmills have been around for a long time and there are numerous models available on the market. These machines are cheap and can be easily folded down for storage in a closet or under a bed, which may in part be the reason these items of exercise equipment haven’t been consigned to the dustbin of time. In truth, despite their cost and storage benefits, there are some serious disadvantages you should consider before you opt to buy one of these machines.

Any Good For Running?

The most significant problem with this style of treadmill is that they are neither suitable or safe for running exercises. These machines are usually to light weight and unstable to take the physical exertion required by the user to get the belt rolling at a running speed. If you do get up to speed and your pace alters the stability of the machine goes out the window and you risk landing in a heap.

Without exception, all the cheap manual treadmills on the market fail the singular test for running capability. Simply put, when you run your stride pattern lengthens. For the average height male the length of stride is generally such that you need a treadmill with a running deck length of between 50-52 ins in length for normal jogging. Any less than that and you will be going at a pace somewhere between walking and jogging to stay on the machine. Non of the models on the market have a running deck of suitable length.

Any Good For Walking?

So you cant use these machines for running exercises, what about walking exercises? Even as walking machines you should carefully consider if this style of treadmill is really worth it. Because you, the user, needs to power up the running belt and maintain power during exercise these types of machine put a lot of extra and unnatural stresses on your ankles, knees and hips when in use. Luckily, to aid stability and to help you maintain balance as you power the treadmill, these machines will be fitted with hand rails that you will need to grasp during exercise. The effect is that you end up stooping to hold hand rails to maintain balance and are not able to walk upright with upper torso giving you balance as you walk. The overall effect of using one of these machines is that you put extra, unnatural stress on your joints whilst stooping in an unnatural posture for walking.


Manual’s just cannot compete with electric models for features. With a manual you are not going to get set programs that push you, keep you motivated to use the machine and improve fitness safely over time. Your not going to get built in fans and heart monitors, you are going to have to adjust incline manually. Many of these features are hugely beneficial in terms of maintaining motivation and interest in your fitness regime over time. Without them would you be as inclined to exercise?

So are manual treadmills any good? For sure they are potentially better than doing no exercise but I can’t help but feel you might be safer and better rewarded by simply walking around the block. If that is no good to you I would recommend saving a little longer and buying a basic motorised machine. They may be twice as much in price but you will use it for twice as long as a manual and they will be safer to use over time.